Artists, designers, architects, and craftspeople have always been influenced by that which they encounter in their lives, including the places where they have lived. The unique characteristics of a particular place often find their way into their works, shaping their creativity and leaving a mark on their art.
Vincent Van Gogh - his paintings of sunflowers and wheat fields are inspired by the landscapes of his native Holland.
Georgia O'Keeffe - known for her paintings of flowers, landscapes, and desert scenes, O'Keeffe was heavily influenced by the American Southwest.
Frida Kahlo - the Mexican artist drew on her own experiences and Mexican folk art to create her surrealist paintings.
William Morris - the British designer drew on the local traditions of craft and design to create textiles, wallpaper, and other decorative arts.
Frank Lloyd Wright - the American architect was influenced by the natural landscape of his native Midwest, using local materials and designing buildings that blended with the environment.
Although a school's local area is more often thought of when teaching geography and history, it can be a great source of inspiration in art lessons:
Visit local landmarks, natural features, and buildings, and use them as inspiration for art projects or design challenges. Photograph them, draw them, paint them, redesign them...
Connect with local artists and craftspeople. Invite them to come into your classroom and share their work, or visit their studios and galleries as a class. Some may even be happy to teach children some new skills.
Explore local parks, galleries, and other cultural attractions where works of art and examples of craft and design can be viewed. Visit museums to learn more about the history and heritage of your area as the past can often be a great source of inspiration for creativity.
Use digital tools to create mixed media art projects - primary art doesn't have to be all painting, drawing and clay work. for example, the benefit of an ipad is that photos and videos can be taken and immediately manipulated on site.
Most children will live in the same area as the school and will have pesonal connections to the place - family members, memories from when they were young, places where things happened that they remember. The local area can inspire children to create artworks or designs that reflect their personal experiences and connections to the local area.
Create cross-curricular artwork. Make links to subjects such as history or geography, creating interdisciplinary projects that explore the local area from different perspectives, for example, how the area has changed over time.
Use materials that children find in your local area, such as wood, stone, or clay, to create art or design projects.
Incorporate local festivals and events into your lessons, creating projects that reflect the themes and traditions of these celebrations. Your projects could have an 'activism' element to them if there are issues in the local area that children feel strongly about.
Encourage community involvement by inviting parents and community members to get involved in your projects and share their expertise and experiences.
Share your children's art projects with the people of the local community through exhibitions, websites, or social media platforms. You might even be able to find places in the community where children can display, or even install, their art.
Art lessons and projects can help children develop a deep and meaningful connection to their local area whilst actively celebrating all it has to offer and fostering children's own creativity. Get out there, explore the area, and see what it has to offer.